More than 2,000 votes were cast to select the top University of Central Florida stories from the 2000s, a remarkable “Decade of Opportunity” for the university. Bringing football on campus with the 2007 opening of Bright House Networks Stadium placed third on the list.

After years of playing miles away from campus in downtown Orlando’s Citrus Bowl, the Knights made their on-campus debut at the 45,000-seat stadium on Sept. 15, 2007, against the University of Texas, a football powerhouse.

An enthusiastic sell-out crowd watched the Knights put up a good fight against the Longhorns in the first game at Bright House Networks Stadium. They cheered as the Knights scored the first-ever touchdown in their new stadium and loudly backed the team’s comeback from a 13-point deficit to take a fourth-quarter lead.

Although UCF lost to Texas 35-32, the Knights went on to win the team’s first Conference USA title that season and play in the Liberty Bowl.

Now in their third season of enjoying a tremendous new home field advantage, the Knights boasted a 6-1 record at Bright House Networks Stadium in 2009. UCF also posted its first-ever win over a nationally ranked opponent, defeating the Houston Cougars to cap an exciting Homecoming Week.

The construction and operation of Bright House Networks Stadium has been funded through naming rights, revenues from suites and club seat leases, ticket and concessions sales, donations, corporate sponsorships and advertising. No public money or tuition fees have been used to build or run the stadium.

UCF will unveil one winner a day this week in its “Decade of Opportunity” celebration, culminating Friday, Commencement Day, when the top story from this exciting first decade of the 21st century will be revealed. The No. 2 story will be announced Thursday.

No. 4 Story: UCF surpasses $100M milestone in annual research funding

No. 5 Story: U.S. News Ranks UCF as Top 5 ‘Up-and-Coming School’

The winners will be announced first on Facebook and Twitter, and then will be posted to the university’s Web site.

About the “Decade of Opportunity”

The top five stories of the 2000s demonstrate how the university is fulfilling its promise that “UCF Stands For Opportunity.” A panel of UCF experts developed a list of the 10 most significant university stories from the 2000s. From Nov. 25 to Dec. 11, the Central Florida community cast votes for the top five.

“The outstanding accomplishments of this ‘Decade of Opportunity’ have been due in large part to the strong, unwavering support of the Central Florida community and the wonderfully generous contributions of our many university donors,” UCF President John Hitt said. “That so many people invested their time, treasure and confidence in our university is testimony to our institution’s high quality and the strength of our regional partnerships.”

A multitude of thrilling events has powered UCF’s transformation during the past 10 years — much of it fueled by the university’s first-ever capital campaign, which raised $366 million and concluded in 2006. The campaign exceeded its initial goal by more than $200 million, and it was an integral part of ongoing efforts by the UCF Foundation and its many partners to inform and inspire the community to support a great university committed to the highest levels of education, research and service.

Donors responded to university leaders’ vision of improving classroom and laboratory facilities and enriching the quality of academic programs. Their efforts helped UCF open the College of Medicine; build the new Rosen College of Hospitality Management; expand College of Business Administration programs; and build Bright House Networks Stadium, the UCF Arena, Wayne Densch Sports Center and much more.

UCF has experienced quality growth throughout the decade with faculty members excelling in the classroom and in their research labs. Students have provided Central Florida schools and nonprofit organizations with millions of hours of service-learning activities and community service and dozens of substantive, mutually beneficial partnerships have enriched both the university and surrounding communities.

“This has been an extraordinary decade for UCF,” Hitt said. “As I look back, I am reminded of how far we have come, but also know our best years are ahead of us. There has never been a better time to be a Knight, and I look forward to what the next ‘Decade of Opportunity’ has in store for our university.”